They have sang us songs as some of the greatest piano men of the past four decades.
But for Langley-based musician Ryan Langevin, Billy Joel, Elton John and ABBA’s Benny Anderson have more in common than just their writing ability and prowess at the keyboards.
They are also great showmen.
“I remember years ago when my mentor said that when anyone comes to see you, it’s about the show, not just about seeing you perform,” said Langevin, who should know.
He not only plays the part of Anderson in Vancouver’s leading ABBA tribute, Abra Cadabra, he is also known for his heart-felt and genuine tribute to two of the greatest piano/vocal acts of our time, Joel and John.
“What makes this show is its history,” said Langevin, who like the artists themselves, shares the stories of how their songs came to be.
He remembers when he went to see Joel in ‘93 as part of piano man’s River of Dreams tour.
“I will never forget it,” said Langevin, adding, “Elton John really came out in the mid-’80s when he released I’m Still Standing. That is the greatest video and it’s so amazing how much it explains who he really is.
“The fact that these songs were written about current times from the day, you remember who you were at the time, where you were, and what you were doing. If it was written in ‘73, you remember going on a date, or to a movie, which Billy illustrates in his music. It’s around the time Baby Boomers were in their early 20s, when they met their first wives, or husbands.”
Before becoming The Piano Man, Langevin studied singing, guitar and piano and later attended Capilano University in North Vancouver. He also performed in jazz bands.
Now a private music teacher, he started his Piano Man act nine years ago after signing with Moon Coin Productions (which also produces the Abra Cadabra show).
“It caught on about five years ago when we started to tour and nurture it,” he said. “I now have a band beside me with background singers, two guitar players and drums and bass. It’s a full-on show.”
Some performance highlights include the Langley Canada Day celebrations for a crowd of more than 5,000; sold-out shows at Prairieland Park Hall in Saskatoon for more than 1,500 people; Evraz Place in Regina for an audience of 1,000; The Bell Centre For Performing Arts, Northlands Park in Edmonton, The PNE, and numerous casinos and theatre shows around B.C.
Langevin stresses that The Piano Man is a tribute to Joel and John and not an impersonation.
“I don’t put on accents. I may look like (Elton John) on stage, but there is still a lot of myself in there too,” he said.
And as we are talking about three of the greatest artists to dance to, audiences should expect to move their feet.
“The nice thing is that even when we play the slow stuff, they’ll still dance. Even the kids recognize the music of Elton John and ABBA…. These artists knew what they were doing at the time and the music still lives on to this day.”
Tickets for Abra Cadabra and The Piano Man, Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, are $43 (all seats) available at the Ticket Seller box office, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.